What is over-criminalization? Over-criminalization generally insinuates that laws regulating public decency and morality is a distraction of sorts to law enforcement officials who could be spending time solving more important crimes rather than dealing in an individual’s personal fixation. Unnecessary reliance upon law enforcement officials to execute task for which it is ill suited has formed serious problems for the administration of criminal justice. (Kadish, 1967) The idea of criminal law enforcing morals on individuals deemed indecent is completely ineffective and it hinders effective law enforcement on actual menacing behavior. With law officials paying more attention to the immoral acts of others, the true crime of America is slipping through the cracks. The use the term over-criminalization is complete understatement in terms of criminal law. While certain legislative rules of morality may be already tagged onto specific crimes such as rape and murder, those same views may very well be improper to broaden its outreach to other aspects of our lives. It would be reasonable to ask: how far into the private lives of citizens may government-sanctioned views of morality properly intrude? One of the main reasons that question can be asked is because of the constant intrusion of sorts in the way of policing personal life preferences. For example, there are many Americans who live a dangerous lifestyle by drinking and partying and having sex with whom ever they please. In some cases they are practicing sexual activity with the same sex. Here is the kicker; there are constricting laws of morals that don’t allow that sort of activity among people in various parts of the U.S. In Texas (among many other States) they have the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is a law banning same-sex marriages. (marriage.about.com) That law is a prime example of over exerting moral standards. If people sodomize one another in a consensual manner, it should be there own business to decide if it is right or wrong. Another issue is the use of particular drugs or alcohol by the people of America. Individuals who drink on a daily basis are frustrated with restricted bar laws now. Some people have to drink in the bar and stay there. They are not allowed to leave and drink out in public or to be drunk in public for that matter. Alcohol has been legalized and yet there are some many restrictions. The same goes for tobacco products. People can no longer smoke in their favorite bars or restaurants because of many restrictions on smoking. Why can’t people smoke what they want? Why can’t people drink when and where they want without the law getting involved? The very simplified answer to both of those questions is Over-criminalization. The soul purpose of over-criminalization is for the law to have complete control of everything that we do as people, as a nation. In essence, the intrusion is inappropriate and the American citizens personal ambitions should not be left to the law to decide. Right now in the United States there is a feeling of over-criminalization, as many Americans believe their lives are being regulated by criminal law. Many American feel betrayed by the criminal law processes because they feel that the restrictions and regulations of so many personal activities infringe on their constitutional rights. The American people have every right to feel that way. One thing that most American do not like about strangled hold their personal and consensual dealing is the fact that pornography is being scrutinize in the U.S. “All jurisdictions have laws that punish the sale, possession, and distribution of obscene material, and most have statutes defining lewdness or public indecency (Schmallger, 2003).” The people of America would like to be able to view certain adult material in the privacy of their own homes. Like wise, they should also be allowed to purchase whatever entertainment they please to, as it is in their personal interest. The law should have no input what so ever in what people are allowed to view, purchase or perform in as long as there are consenting individuals. The law should control no Americans’ individual rights or personal lifestyle. “If the first Amendment means anything, it means that a state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch.” –Justice Thurgood Marshall (Schmallger, 2003). No one could have ever stated that better than Justice Thurgood Marshall. It certainly is the truth, so why are there so many concerns about the American peoples’ personal dealings? The answer you may get from the law would be indecent or obscene or immoral. Yes, we need laws against criminal acts in the United States but laws against morals seem to personal to have enacted. The principles of a man or a woman should be held to his or her own standards and not the law. The simple fact is there is a crisis of over-criminalization in America, but the question is: What are we the people going to do about it?
Schmallger, F. (2003) Criminal Law Today: An Introduction with Capstone Cases (2nd ed.) (UOP Special Edition Series) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Retrieved March 22, 2009 from the UOP ebooks collection Stritof, S., Stritof, B. (2009). Same Sex Marriage License Laws. About.com: Marriage. Retrieved March 22, 2009, from http://marriage.about.com/cs/marriagelicenses/a/samesexcomp.htm